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‘Bing It on’ Challenged, Google Hummingbird and the Removal of Keyword Data

by Dave Langdale on October 4, 2013


Today will mark the sad occasion of my last newsletter. Like the inevitability of Miley Cyrus’ staggering array of public outbursts leading to rehab, there’s only so many times you can challenge people on the street to tiger bread fencing matches before you’re carted off in a white van.

While I’m still allowed to be near a computer, however, I might as well bring you up to speed on recent events in SEO. Although the handcuffs make it difficult to type, you can expect offensive defence from Bing, a new animal update from Google and a crazed popcorn fan.

Bing’s ‘Bing It on’ Challenged

It’s been a while since Bing began their string of attempts to usurp Google’s search dominance with the ‘Bing it On’ challenge – a split testing PR stunt that asked users to choose which set of search results they preferred. Their results put Bing on top.

Recently, however, a Professor of economics and law has challenged the results, claiming ‘deceptive advertising’. A report published on Search Engine Land this week details a replicated version of the study which shows Google coming out on top.

Now Bing are on the offensive, slamming the analysis and defending their challenge. It’s an interesting development from a company whose attempts at chasing after Google have bordered on the levels of desperation usually seen with One Direction fans.

Analytics Removes Keyword Data

Like a seagull choking on a bit of battered fish, the death of keyword data has been a steady spluttering decline since the first day (not provided) first showed up in Analytics. Now it seems to have finally given up, collapsing in a heap and becoming another rotting metric on the Blackpool pleasure beach of search.

Last week Google announced that all their servers are now using HTTPS encryption, meaning that keyword data is never passed through to the websites running the analytics code.

Of course you can still access all this data if you purchase a Google Analytics Premium account at a small cost of $150,000. Not that this anything to do with money. Not at all.

Google Hummingbird

Last week was a momentous occasion for Google as they released their third animal, coined the ‘Hummingbird’. Adding to the menagerie of disdain, this animal is designed to provide faster results by analysing searcher intent through semantics.

While it was only announced recently, it looks like the effects have been rolling out for weeks and explains a lot of the ranking fluctuations we have been seeing as Google seeks to determine what people from Hull mean when they search for “how to use potatoes for clothing”.

It might sound like a great idea in practise, but I’m unsure if they’re accounting for the high percentage of the world’s population that are nutters. Any attempt to decipher what this guy means when he searches and it might just send the Google servers into meltdown.

When You Just Love Something Too Much

We all have our vices. Mine include finger puppet cabaret, watching Lego in the washing machine and pretending I work in supermarkets. But sometimes they can be too much. If you wake up one morning to hear police helicopters hovering above your house, then you know that telling an old lady the baked bean aisle is in the strip club across the road was too far.

Luckily this man has nailed the balance of affection and control. Enough to be hilarious, but without invoking the need to call security, he has found a way to enjoy his passion in public. It’s a lesson for all of us and I’ll be working on mine in a Lidl near you.

Featured image by Odonata98

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  • Honor

    October 6, 2013 at 10:26 am

    I really loved this. David, your SEO insanity will be missed.

  • Stephen Whitelaw

    October 6, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Hi Dave

    Great article – really enjoyed it – very informative and well written.

    Just one minor correction – sadly even if you pay Google $150,000 per annum for Google Analytics Premium – it still suffers from the ‘not provided’ problem !


  • Rafael Tano

    October 8, 2013 at 11:49 pm

    Hey Dave,

    Thanks for the great article. Keyword data was indeed a big part of SEO, but it’s not what clients really pay for. Clients pay for results (or at least they should be). Results should be measured in customers/conversions and not rankings. At the end of the day it’s still all about tracking those conversions as opposed to keyword traffic.


    P.S. I totally got Rick Rolled.